Chinese government officials and state media have gone on offense, praising the Communist regime’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic while mounting an aggressive effort to combat the wave of international scrutiny it now faces.
The global superpower has set its targets on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, spending the past week using its state media sources to unleash a flurry of propaganda against the chief US diplomat.
As Pompeo began publicly repeating the theory that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, Chinese state media went on the attack.
The People’s Daily, the official newspaper group of the Chinese Communist Party, has devoted whole editorials to attacking Pompeo for his vocal criticism of Beijing as a result of the virus.
CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, has attacked Pompeo’s assertions as “insane and evasive,” and has gone after the secretary of state in extremely personal terms.
Newscasters have referred to him as the “common enemy of mankind” and accused him of “spreading a political virus” on multiple occasions in the past week.
Xinhua News Agency, the state-run media organization, called Pompeo’s remarks “nonsense.”
Images of Pomepo with the word “liar” stamped across his face have even been broadcast on TV screens in Beijing’s subways.
China did not direct their attention to focus on Pompeo unintentionally, according to Bloomberg. Chinese officials have focused their efforts solely on their largest critics in the Trump administration, the outlet reports, specifically Pompeo and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.
Those efforts came from a desire to not prompt President Trump to counter their claims on Twitter while still wanting to spread anti-US propaganda.
The desire to not face attacks from Trump were not always successful, however, as evidenced by how the president said he came to use the term “Chinese virus.”
Trump began referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” earlier this year. The move was in response to Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian pushing a conspiracy theory in March that the US military was responsible for bringing the pandemic to China.
Mike PompeoGetty Images
“The so-called ‘virus leaked from a Wuhan lab’ hype is a complete and utter lie. American politicians are rushing to shift the blame, cheat votes and suppress China when their own domestic anti-epidemic efforts are a mess,” Zhao said.
Zhao had to walk back claims that the US Army brought COVID-19 to Wuhan last month, saying the accusation had been raised on his “personal Twitter account.” Chinese ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai derided Zhao publicly for the remark in a March interview with Axios.